With wildfire season upon us, it is important to prepare and understand what actions to take in the case of an evacuation, specifically with your pets. Fires can be unpredictable and can be destructive within a matter of minutes. Whether you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfires or not, taking these steps to prepare for an emergency can go a long way in the time of a disaster.
Learn Your Dog’s Hiding Spots
Get to know your pet’s behavior. Pay attention to where they like to hangout or hide when stressed, in the case that they run off during an emergency. This will allow you to find them quickly and safely without putting yourself at risk trying to find them. Likewise, train your pups to stay in a room closest to the exit when you are gone. This will make them easily accessible for first responders. If you have any outdoor pets, bring them inside if wildfires are burning near your home.
Put Together an Emergency Bag:
In addition to preparing a disaster kits for you and your family, put together a bag for your dogs and cats as well. Fill their bag with updated medical records, any medications they will need, and a first aid kit that includes pain relievers, bandages, wraps and more first aid items. In addition, include enough food and water for three days, along with any other supplies that may bring your dog comfort such as a blanket or a toy.
Create an Escape Plan:
Work together with the members of your household to create an escape plan in the case of an emergency. This may include assigning roles to each member, such as who will oversee the pets when evacuating. It is also beneficial to walk through the route you plan to use as an escape. This will help your pets get used to the idea of evacuating without it coming as a surprise. Likewise, have a plan for where you will go for shelter after evacuating. Make sure to check if the shelter you choose will allow animals.
During a Fire Evacuation:
Keep a Leash Close to the Exit
In the event of a fire, the last thing you need is to have to look for items, especially leashes. Get into a routine of keeping your pet’s leash as close to your exit as possible. This will allow you to quickly gain control of your pet to move to a safe place without any panic. Having their leash easily accessible will also save time and prevent your pup from running away.
Whether it is a collar, a microchip, or a DNA profile, a form of identification is always a good idea in case your pet escapes during the evacuation, or if a first responder needs to rescue them from your house. ID will provide an easy way to contact you and be reunited with your dog if they go missing.
Get a Pet Identification Sticker:
Find a rescue pet identification sticker to place on a window near your front door. These decals include information of how many animals live in your home, what kind of animals, and what their names might be. If you have to leave your home during a fire and you were able to take your pets with you, you can also write “Evacuated” on the decal so first responders know whether or not to look for animals that still may be present in your home.
Check Air Quality:
Pay attention to your local air quality during times of a wildfire. Smoke and toxic air can be equally as dangerous to your pet as a fire itself. Check often as the air quality can change within hours and follow the recommendations of local experts.
Pay Attention to Your Dog:
It is very important to watch your pet closely after a fire for negative effects of a wildfire. Smoke can hurt your pet’s respiratory system and their eyes. Look for signs such as coughing, trouble breathing, reduced appetite, red eyes, and more. If you notice anything out of the ordinary or concerning, contact your veterinarian.
Limit Outdoor Activity:
Avoid going outside with your animals during hazardous air quality conditions. If you have outdoor dogs or cats, keep them inside until the air clears up. Limit outdoor activities such as walks and playtime, and only take your pups outside for quick bathroom breaks. Keep them busy with indoor activities and toys.
We hope that you will never have to encounter a situation such as this but being prepared for an emergency can make all the difference. Taking even just a few moments to prepare for a possible fire evacuation can mean the difference of life and death of your furry family members, as every second counts. Stay safe & healthy this fire season.